Perhaps the biggest meal Americans will sit down to all year is the Thanksgiving feast. Most of us look forward to the meal, but not necessarily the calories that come with it.
These numbers come from the New York Times' food blogger.
These are based on common recipes, but calories can vary greatly depending on how much butter you use on your whole turkey, or in your stuffing and mashed potatoes, and what you put in your green bean casserole or sweet potatoes.
Six ounces of roasted dark meat turkey comes with 300 calories, one cup of stuffing has 300, and 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes with gravy can range from 140 to 250. A serving of cranberries has 15 calories, unless you buy canned, which has 110. Your dinner roll with butter brings 300 to the table, candied sweet potatoes adds another 300, and a 1/2 cup green bean casserole can contain 110 to 275 calories.
If you still have room for dessert, a slice of pumpkin pie has 300 calories, and a piece of pecan pie has 500.
The average meal contains about 2,500 calories, but if you add in appetizers, drinks, and second helpings, the estimate jumps to 4,500 calories. Thankfully, there are ways to make your Thanksgiving calorie intake easier to swallow.
Let's start with the turkey.
Cindy Krzykwa, the Forest Hills Foods Deli Bakery Director, says instead of rubbing it with butter or oil, to spray it with non-stick cooking spray. That will save a few hundred calories. If you put the stuffing inside the bird, Krzykwa says you don't need to add butter.
"The turkey is going to baste in its own juices, so even with your everday cooking, you could substitute things, maybe instead of doing stuffing inside of the turkey, you could still get some good flavor. I take the citrus and these fresh herbs and actually pack it right into the cavity," she said.
She says as you roast your bird, the citrus is going to burst and give you lots of flavor.
Next is the green bean casserole. Instead of topping it with fattening fried onions, saute' your own and make your own cream of mushroom soup with low-fat milk.
For mashed potates and gravy, use skim milk instead of heavy whipping cream, or use another trick. "Use cauliflower," she said.
For the cranberries, make your own sauce with fresh berries.
There's also ways to cut down the 300 calories in your piece of pumpkin pie.
"The most calories in a pumpkin pie, is not the pumpkin, the canned pumpkin, it's actually high in fiber and good for you. It's the sweetened condensed milk. Krzykwa recommends using almond or soy milk, and going easy on the whipping cream.
The final reminder: when you count your blessings this Thanksgiving, remember to count your calories. And before you stuff yourself with stuffing, get in some exercise.
The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids will once again be open from 5 am to 1pm for its members. Membership Director Jean Van Coevering says they get a lot of traffic.
"They do a two-to-three hour workout every Thanksgiving morning, and I'm here to help them along the way with spin class," she said. "They're here for quite a bit of time. Some people put their turkey in the oven then they come to the Y and work out, then they go back home to finishing cooking their dinners."
She says her instructors really kick it up a notch on Thanksgiving morning.